Ireland’s David Morris beat Jamie Cope 6-4 in his first round match at the UK Championship in York yesterday.
Although the opening couple of days were somewhat dominated by upsets and shocks, Morris’ victory, despite being 50 places below his opponent in the world rankings, doesn’t necessarily come as a major surprise.
The Kilkenny cueist has been in great form this season having regained his place on the Main Tour via Q-School in May – reaching the quarter-finals of the Wuxi Classic and performing quite well in other European Tour events.
Cope, on the other hand, has struggled for consistency over the last few seasons for various reasons which has resulted him sliding down the rankings.
It is a shame for player who, only a few years ago, people were expecting to be a regular fixture at the business end of tournaments.
The pair’s last 128 encounter ebbed and flowed one way and then the other but the key break came in the 10th frame when, 56 points down, Morris cleared with a wonderful 62 clearance that included several gutsy pots to avoid the decider and advance to the next round.
Morris is an all-round accomplished player but he excels in his fluent break-building and if he can hone into that he could do some serious damage during this tournament.
The Irishman, who just turned 25 on Wednesday, will face veteran Peter Ebdon in the second round after the former champion easily dispatched of Andrew Norman 6-1.
It wasn’t to be a delightful double for the Irish contingent on Thursday, though, as 1997 world champion Ken Doherty let a 5-4 lead slip in a deciding frame defeat to John Astley.
The Dubliner had come from 4-2 down to go within one of victory, and had opportunities in both the last frames to complete it, but ultimately lost both on the final colours for a desperately disappointing defeat.
Cope and Doherty aside, the higher ranked players had it largely their own way on the third day of action at the Barbican.
Several of the top 16 players entered the fray and all of them recorded comfortable successes over their challengers.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s victims in the Champion of Champions and World Championship, Stuart Bingham and Barry Hawkins, hammered their inexperienced opponents Ahmed Saif and Alexander Ursenbacher 6-0 respectively.
Two-time Euro Tour winner this season Mark Allen surrendered only the solitary frame to Welsh youngster Jak Jones while Ali Carter also enjoyed a 6-1 triumph over Ratchayothin Yotharuck.
Former world champions Mark Williams and Graeme Dott were made to work harder, but only slightly, for their 6-2 wins over Allan Taylor and Fraser Patrick while the recently struggling Judd Trump repeated the trick against Gareth Green – one of seven amateurs in the draw making up the numbers following the withdrawal of some of the pros.
The most crowd-pleasing result of the day was Jimmy White’s 6-4 victory over Michael Wasley.
It was an important match for the ‘Whirlwind’ as he knows he must earn enough prize money between now and the end of the season to guarantee his place in the top 64, and thus his place on the Main Tour for the 2014/15 campaign.
The 1992 champion appeared to play well, knocking in four big breaks that included a 107 in the fourth.
It was a mixed day for the Chinese with Yu Delu and Liu Chuang progressing but their compatriots Chen Zhe and Li Yan were eliminated by Dave Harold and Jimmy Robertson respectively.
In an all-Chinese affair, Zhang Anda overcame countryman Cao Yupeng 6-3 while, in a busy day in York, Englishmen Shaun Murphy (walkover), Michael Holt, Peter Lines, Stuart Carrington and Adam Duffy also booked their place in the last 64 – Duffy’s clash with Barry Pinches not being decided until 2:20am in a 6-5 thriller.
Friday sees all but four of the first round ties come to a conclusion – those involving Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby have been left over until Saturday for when the television coverage begins.
However, John Higgins, Stephen Maguire, Marco Fu, Matthew Stevens, Luca Brecel and Indian duo Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta are all in action.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.